Snowed in for Christmas – Book Review #blogtober

You know it’s nearly Christmas when the snowy scenes start appearing on the covers of the new releases. Sarah Morgan is one of my favourite Christmas authors and I was thrilled when I was approved to read this year’s Christmas release by her.

This was the perfect Christmas read

The Miller Family always celebrate Christmas together in the Scottish highlands but this year, all three siblings have secrets that they don’t want their parents to know about. Meanwhile, PR expert Lucy is in danger of losing her job if she can’t win a major piece of work so she decides to travel to Scotland and deliver her proposal in person in the hope that this will enable her to get in ahead of the competition. However, none of them paid any attention to the weather forecast!

The result is that the entire family plus Lucy are snowed in together for the days immediately before Christmas. The grown-up siblings Ryan, Alice and Clemmie all try to avoid awkward questions from their parents which leads to misunderstandings all round. As I read it, I laughed, cringed at some of the actions taken and had a lump in my throat on several occasions.

I love the family relationships in this book. The bickering siblings who still always look out for each other feel very real as does Mum Glenda who feels guilty that her children don’t feel that they can’t talk to her. The comment “Your child is always your child, no matter how old they are. You want the best for them” stood out a mile for me as it is so true. That’s what I love about Sarah Morgan. Her characters feel like real people and do and say things that you can imagine being said by people you know or by yourself.

The siblings all love each other and each have their own characters. They were all interesting but I empathised most with Alice. Her ability to be perfectly competent in her professional life but feel totally inadequate in her personal life really struck a chord with me. I loved the way her relationships with her fiance and her family worked themselves out.

The stand-out character for me was that of Nanna Jean who at 86, is not changing her attitudes  towards anything and provides a lot of the comic relief in the book. She definitely reminds me of my own mother who is a very similar age and has a similar attitude to doing exactly what she wants.

It’s a Christmas romance and we know how the characters are likely to end up but it’s how they arrive there that makes Sarah Morgan’s books so special.

I loved this book and it really put me in the mood for Christmas and making some shortbread.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers, HQ, for providing the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Snowed in for Christmas was released in the UK on October 27th

This is my final post for Blogtober 2022. I have published a post every day for the whole of this month!!!!!!


Blogtober – Sundays in bed with…….. A Restless Truth

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed). This week the book by my bed (or on the arm of my sofa) is A Restless Truth by Freya Marske

This isn’t the book that I intended to read this weekend. However I was at the theatre and only had my ipad with me so had to pick one of my ARCs to read instead of a physical book.

Blurb from Net Galley:
Maud Blyth has always longed for adventure. She’d hoped for plenty of it when she agreed to help her beloved older brother unravel a magical conspiracy. She even volunteered to serve as an old lady’s companion on an ocean liner. But Maud didn’t expect the old lady to turn up dead on the very first day of the voyage.

Now she has to deal with a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and the lovely, dangerously outrageous Violet Debenham. Violet is everything Maud has been trained to distrust, yet can’t help but desire: a magician, an actress and a magnet for scandal.

Surrounded by open sea and a ship full of suspects, Maud and Violet must learn to drop the masks they’ve learned to wear. Only then might they work together to locate a magical object worth killing for – and unmask a murderer. All without becoming dead in the water themselves.

This is the second book in the Last Binding series and follows on from the author’s previous novel A Marvellous Light. It is very much a sequel and I think that it would be difficult to follow what was going on without having read the first book.

Maud is a secondary character in the first book and I like the way her character has developed in this sequel. The mystery is interesting and I do like Lord Hawthorne and feel that he is going to be a lot more important in this book. So far so good!

What are you reading this Sunday?

This is the twenty-ninth post for Blogtober 2o22. I’ve almost finished this challenge of posting every day throughout this month 😃

Book Blogger Hop October 28 #blogtober 2022

 The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer @ Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, it was relaunched on February 15, 2013 by Billy @ the Ramblings of a coffee addict. . Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end the following Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

I just love this meme and the questions that come up. They generate so much discussion which is so great.

This weeks question is: Have you ever experienced a blogging nightmare? If so, what was it?(submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer))

Not really. I’m not a very technically minded person so I’ve always stuck with the basic WordPress blogging platform that I first started to use in 2012. I sometimes see other blogs on the platform and they look much more creative and inviting than mine but whenever I’ve tried to change things around, I often end up with a worse result and I get frustrated at the waste of time. That isn’t really a nightmare though.

The worst nightmare is trying to keep up with reading all of the blogs that I follow and posting comments on them. I love to read all the different posts but it isn’t always easy to find the time and then I begin to feel guilty . Again though, I don’t think that really qualifies as a nightmare.

Have you ever had a disaster on your blog?

Day 28

The Man in the Queue #1929club

Twice a year, Karen and Simon  host an online book club where they choose a year and everyone comes together to review and discuss books published in that year. I only discovered it a year ago but I love the way that it gives you a focus for discovering books that you have never previously heard of as well as rediscovering old favourites. This week is dedicated to 1929 and what a year it was for publishing, especially for detective fiction.

One of my favourite historical crime series at the moment is the series written by Nicola Upson featuring the novelist and playwright Josephine Tey. Josephine Tey is best known for her novel A Daughter of Time but she wrote many other novels including one that was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock. Nicola Upson takes the known facts about Josephine’s life and weaves a whole backstory into them where she not only writes about crime but also helps to solve them. The books are brilliant and well worth reading if you haven’t discovered them yet.

One of the novels takes place when Josephine Tey is writing The Man in the Queue and when I discovered that this book which introduces Inspector Grant was written in 1929, it was an obvious choice for me to read this week.

The Man in the Queue is about exactly what it says in the title. There is a queue outside a theatre in London for a popular show and a man is stabbed to death. There are no clues to his identity and nobody in the queue remembers seeing anything happening.

Inspector Grant is called in to try and solve the mystery and finds that it takes all of his intelligence to get to the bottom of who the victim is and why he was murdered. He is a really likeable character, thoughtful and charismatic. He also gets on well with all of his colleagues including his superior which is often not the case in modern police procedural novels. He has a strong sense of justice and is reluctant to leave the case alone even when it appears that he has solved it and the murderer is safely under lock and key.

The secondary characters are also memorable. The depiction of the actress Ray Marcable is brilliant. At first, she appears to be as good hearted as she is beautiful but then Inspector Grant and the reader begin to see that she is actually hard and will happily destroy the careers of her leading men to keep herself in the spotlight.

I really enjoyed the way the mystery unfolded as pieces gradually start to fit together. However, this isn’t a story where the reader can put all of the clues together and solve the crime along with the hero. There are clues as to who the murderer is but the actual resolution does come as a surprise. In a way, this was the weakest part of the novel, not because it was unexpected but because it just felt a bit rushed after the way the story had previously developed.

I love novels that have a strong sense of place and this is one of the strengths of this story. The settings of London, the beach on the south coast and the highlands of Scotland are all vividly portrayed and I had no trouble in visualising the scenes that she described.

One thing that really jarred for me was the casual use of racist language that was prevalent at the time. The prime suspect was frequently referred to as a ‘dago’ as he was of Italian appearance. Apparently in other editions, this has been changed to a less offensive term.

Overall, I did love the book. Mainly the writing was excellent and it was a satisfying mystery. I definitely need to track down the other novels that she wrote featuring Alan Grant.

This is post 27 for Blogtober 2022

WWW Wednesday October 26

It’s Wednesday again and the sun is shining again today. The weather has certainly changed recently though and over the past few days, we’ve seemingly had most of the rain that didn’t fall over the Summer.

Wednesday means that it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love taking part in it and reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here.

The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three simple questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

What I’m currently reading

This is supposed to be a story of friendship, love and broken vows. I was in the mood to read a contemporary novel before heading into my two heavy weight fantasy reads that I have lined up. There are six couples who met through their children 20 years ago and have remained friends ever since with no real shake-ups. Then two of them begin to act on an attraction to each other. There’s no affair yet but I’m sure it’s going to happen.

What I have recently finished reading

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

This series, The Last Binding, was recommended by Biblio Nerd in their review of the sequel A Restless Truth. I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to reading the sequel very shortly

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

This was brilliant. Set in London in 1926, it was loosely based on the life of a real life woman, Kate Meyrick who ran clubs in Soho during the twenties. I loved the characters and the atmosphere that Kate Atkinson created of a society where nothing really mattered for some people after the horrors of the Great War. The ending was perfect.

The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey

I read this as part of the 1929 club run by Kaggsy and Simon. This is the first book in Josephine Tey’s Alan Grant detective series. For a book that is almost 100 years, it’s dated really well. I enjoyed the mystery and the ending was certainly unexpected. The one thing that did stand out negatively was the casual use of pre-war racist language. Inspector Grant routinely uses the word ‘dago’ to describe someone of Italian appearance which really seemed out of place

What I am intending to read next

I’m not sure which one of these I will choose. I’ll have to see how the mood takes me 😃

What are you reading this week?

This is post 26 for #blogtober 2022

Top 5 Tuesday – My Top Five Halloween Reads

Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is now being hosted at Meeghan reads!! For details of all of the prompts for July to September see Meeghans page here.

October’s theme has been all about bookish quotes. However, I don’t really take notes of particular quotes when I read so I haven’t been able to take part. I decided that today I would just take a freebie but I promise that next week, I’ll be using the themes properly Meeghan 😃

As Halloween is approaching, I thought I would pick my top ten reads for this time of year. I don’t really go for spooky, horror reads but I love a good gothic feel to a book so my choices are ones with a gothic feel and where death plays an important part.

The world has been taken over by vampires and only a few humans are left to carry on the fight against them. This is a brilliant read. It’s a long book but I absolutely loved it.

A very gothic take on some very familiar fairy tale themes. I loved the bone dog and the demon chicken. A traditional quest story told in a darker way.

This is another of my favourite reads so far this year. Lanie Stones is a necromancer who can bring the dead to life. This is a great story with definite echoes of The Addams Family.

Definitely one for Halloween as Sabriel and her father, the Abhorsen can communicate with the dead and send them back to where they belong.

“There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife”
That has to be one of the best opening sentences ever. The Graveyard book is really a children’s book but I really enjoyed it. Neil Gaiman is an author who can be read on many levels. As it is set largely in a graveyard, it has to be perfect for Halloween.

That’s my top five not very spooky reads for Halloween. What would your top reads for this time of year be?

This is post 25 for Blogtober 2022

The 1929 club – Beauvallet

Twice a year, Karen and Simon  host an online book club where they choose a year and everyone comes together to review and discuss books published in that year. Today kicks off the start of the week dedicated to 1929 and what a year it was for publishing, especially for detective fiction.

I was surprised by how many books I have already read that were originally published in 1929. These include:

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie
Goodbye to all that by Robert Graves
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner
Grand Hotel by Vicky Baum

It’s a really busy time of year at the moment and so I decided to start the week off quite gently with a reread from a favourite author.

Georgette Heyer is most famous for her romances set in the Regency period but she did write a couple of more historical novels, one of which is Beauvallet. This is set in Tudor times when Sir Francis Drake had just sailed around the world and the Spanish and English navies were spoiling for a fight. As in her Regency romances, Georgette Heyer introduces real figures into her stories and so we meet Queen Elizabeth 1 and King Philip of Spain as well as Sir Francis Drake and other members of the Tudor court.

Nicholas Beauvallet is a classic swashbuckling hero who always has a joke when he is in danger and is irresistible to women. We first meet him at sea as he boards a Spanish ship to carry off its treasure. On board the ship are his excellency Don Manuel and his daughter, Dona Domenica who are returning to Spain from the Americas. Of course, the result of the battle is never in doubt and neither is the romance. But then, the beauty of a well written romance is the journey that the two parties undertake before they can ride off into the happily ever after.

Beauvallet is a true gentleman and returns Don Manuel and Dona Domenica to Spain but he promises that he will come for her before the year is out. He keeps his promise and comes to Spain in disguise, travelling right to the heart of the Spanish court and meeting King Philip while masquerading as a French nobleman.

Domenica is now living with her aunt after the death of her father and is in danger of being forcibly married off to her cousin as the family want her inheritance for themselves. There are some lovely scenes equal to any in Heyer’s romances where Beauvallet pretending to be the Chevalier de Guise becomes the darling of Spanish society. Domenica’s aunt, Dona Beatrice is a worthy opponent for Beauvallet as she is determined that Domenica will marry her son even if he has to kidnap her to achieve this.

This doesn’t quite have the sparkle of some of her best romances such as The Grand Sophy and sometimes the dialogue becomes a bit stilted as Heyer is possibly less comfortable with Tudor phrasing. Domenica too, doesn’t have the depth of some of her later heroines. However, it is still a gorgeous bit of escapism and there are thrills galore in the last third of the book.

If you love Georgette Heyer and haven’t read this one, then it is definitely worth picking up.

This is post 24 for Blogtober 2022

Blogtober -Sundays in bed with ……… The Ones We Burn

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed). This week the book by my bed (or on the arm of my sofa) is The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix

This is a Net Galley ARC which I’m fairly sure that I requested mainly on the basis of the cover which really grabbed my attention.

Blurb from Net Galley:
Ranka is tired of death. All she wants now is to be left alone, living out her days in Witchik’s wild north with the coven that raised her, attempting to forget the horrors of her past. But when she is named Bloodwinn, the next treaty bride to the human kingdom of Isodal, her coven sends her south with a single directive: kill him. Easy enough, for a blood-witch whose magic compels her to kill.

Except the prince is gentle, kind, and terrified of her. He doesn’t want to marry Ranka; he doesn’t want to be king at all. And it’s his sister – the wickedly smart, infuriatingly beautiful Princess Aramis – who seems to be the real threat.

But when witches start turning up dead, murdered by a mysterious, magical plague, Aramis makes Ranka an offer: help her develop a cure, and in return, she’ll teach Ranka to contain her deadly magic. But as the coup draws nearer and the plague spreads, Ranka is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her power, her past, and who she’s meant to fight for. Soon, she will have choose between the coven that raised her – and the princess who sees beyond the monster they shaped her to be. But as the bodies pile up, a monster may be exactly what they need.

I’m loving this so far although there do seem to be a few parallels with The Darkening by Sunya Mara especially with regard to the developing romance. But then again, there are only so many different ways you can spin relationships.

What are you reading this Sunday?

This is the twentysecond post for Blogtober 2o22. I’m well over half way through the challenge of posting every day throughout this month 😃

Stacking the Shelves 65

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It’s Saturday again. Doesn’t it come around quickly? We’re hurtling towards Halloween and the end of October but today is another beautiful sunny Autumn day.

Saturday means it’s time for my weekly Stacking the Shelves post. Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

My STS posts are generally my library books. I’m a great supporter of libraries, mainly because I could never afford to buy all the books that I want to read, and visit mine every week whenever possible. I love the fact that I can look at the online catalogue and request books to borrow. This is great for books that are recommended to me by different bookbloggers. It works much better for crime and mystery stories rather than fantasy though. For some reason, Leicestershire readers don’t borrow fantasy books so not many of them are purchased by the library system. It’s also great for finding books in bookshops that I might like. Getting a book from the library means that I don’t need to worry about wasting my money if I don’t like it!

This week was another mammoth haul of books that I had reserved at the library. It’s going to take a while to read them as I still haven’t finished two of my books from last week and we’re also very busy this week as we’re performing on stage at the end of the week so madly rehearsing. Pictures to follow for anyone who is interested 😃 🎭

Babel by R F Kuang
I have seen so much about this book and am very excited to read it. Set in an alternative Oxford in 1836, Babel is the university’s Royal Institute of Translation. But is it a paradise or a prison?
It’s a lengthy book at 541 pages so we’ll see how it goes.

The Starless Crown by James Rollins
I have wanted to read this since it came out at the beginning of the year. My mother and I used to avidly read his Sigma thrillers and so I’m intrigued by this new fantasy novel.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The library had the latest volume of this series which sounded interesting so I thought I would read the first book to see what it was like.
For two hundred years, the Scion government has led an oppressive campaign against unnaturalness in London.
Clairvoyance of any kind has been decreed a criminal offence but Paige Mahoney is a powerful dreamwalker who leads a double life, hiding her gifts from her father who works for the government.

Other People’s Husbands by Elizabeth Noble
As a break from all this fantasy, I’ve got this contemporary novel by one of my favourite authors.
A group of friends met two decades ago at the school gate and think they know each other so well. Then the affair happens…..

That’s what I’ve added to my shelves this week and I am so looking forward to reading all of them.

What’s been added to your bookshelves this week?

This is post 22 for Blogtober 2022

Blogtober – Book Blogger Hop 21st October

 The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer @ Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, it was relaunched on February 15, 2013 by Billy @ the Ramblings of a coffee addict. . Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end the following Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

I just love this meme and the questions that come up. They generate so much discussion which is so great.

This weeks question is:

Are any of your bookcases buckling under the weight of too many books?

(submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer))

Not any more.

At the start of this year, all of our bookshelves were jammed with books. We had books piled on top of each other and double stacked where the shelves were wide enough. We also had books piled up in the corners of the rooms as well lurking in wardrobes.

Then in April, we went to Ikea and bought lots of shiny new bookcases and turned a tiny room in our house into a library. We also had a huge cull of books that we didn’t think that we were going to read again. At the moment, our bookcases are beautifully neat and we still have room for some more books. I’m not sure how long this situation will last though.

What about you. Are your bookshelves buckling under the weight of all those books?

Day 21